County Fairs, the youth, and those incredible volunteers

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Cary Sims
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

We’ve just about wrapped up the 73rd Angelina County Fair this week.  You will read in other parts of the news about the placings, the livestock, ag mech, foods, crafts, and other activities that took place. Perhaps the highlights would include our “Reach for The Stars Show” for kids with special needs, and the generous support of the buyers at the auction in addition to the groups have award scholarships to outstanding graduating seniors.   But as the auction gets underway late this afternoon, and the ribbons, buckles, and banners will be on display, we would be remiss not to say a special thank you to all the volunteers who make each year’s show a success.

Volunteers are truly the heroes behind the scenes who make our County Fair successful. 

The very first contest of the week was the public speaking competition.  Chairman Bo David Williford and several other volunteers assist with this contest. I have been around long enough to remember Mr. Williford as a FFA member. Now as the Assistant Principal at Central Junior High, he continues to assist youth in a new, and very challenging, public speaking competition.

The Home Economics Division is such a large effort that they utilize a three-person co-chair system. These three folks are Janna Brazil, Joel Redus, and Elizabeth Boulware. There were 37 judges needed for all the organization and judging.  Yes, the judges do get to partake of some of the best cakes, pies, cheesecakes, breads, and cookies around, but they also must test and quiz the students about the ingredients, preparation and nutritional value.  While most Family & Consumer Science teachers help lead the event, special recognition is given those who took off work and spent hours with the competitors.

Keith Spencer is the superintendent of the Ag Mechanics show.  A local businessman, he finds judges to evaluate the wood and metal construction and refurbishing efforts done by teams of students.

Superintendents for the livestock show divisions include James Young, Andy Gardner, George Wing, Stephen Shockley, Mike Whiteman, Saundra Renfro, Anna Lamb, and Matt Clifton.  Each of these men and women also have a number of folks who help with validation, check-in, opening gates and a number of other tasks for each show.

Anita Carraway oversees the Youth Ambassador program. If you watched any part of the Fair, you saw youth in blue vests helping. This youth volunteer program strives to provide high school aged youth fair participants the opportunity to develop and practice advanced leadership skills, and become an advocate for their county fair division. Applications are due in mid-September and those selected are responsible for workshops leading up the Fair, helping during their assigned division, as well as generally helping out whenever they may be needed. 

The Lufkin/Angelina County Chamber of Commerce has numerous volunteers that give of their time for the Fair.  The County Fair Board consists of Steve Milligan, David Flowers, Bob Brown, Stephen Corley, Chad Murray, Chris Carraway, Anita Carraway, Greg Modisette, Scott Slusher, Sara Vest, and Preston Loggins. The Fair Board chairman is Todd Kassaw.

The largest committee for the Fair is the Youth Committee. They meet to evaluate the past competitions and prepare for the next year.  This committee is made up of 4-H, FFA, and FCLA representatives as well as the superintendents from each areas.  Their Tuesday afternoon meetings are held monthly. 

Other committee chairs working on other areas of the county fair include Debbie LaRoe, Greg Harrison, Pat Penn, Charlie Grumbles, Brennan Ferrara, and Jordan Eldridge.

Finally, donors to the auction help reward the youth on Saturday evening.  Brookshire Brothers is our presenting sponsor for the Fair. There are numerous, fantastic businesses and families that support the auction, and I also want to personally thank those of you who donated any amount to one of the buyer pools. 

If you want to join the auction virtually, donate to the auction, or check out pictures of this year’s winners, go to www.angelinacountyfair.com

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